Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday Already??

Wow...the week just flew by.
Been rather busy at work this week, which always makes the time fly by.
The last launch we did had an "anomaly" in the tracking system I run. Analysis of the recorded data from our logs shows that we had multiple failures in the system(s), resulting in some data loss on the primary telemetry downlink receiving system, AND the VEDA data "decommutators", but our fixed antennas and back up recorders filled in the holes, so while things didn't work as they should have, we captured all the data.
SO, after a week of teleconferences and webex presentations, we started actual work to determine which part of the system started the cascading failures. I'm betting it's our Primary Tracking Receiver, which had been acting up the entire week prior to the launch. We had to power cycle it several times to wake it up, and it seems to have lost about 20dB ( ! ) of receive sensitivity.
Considering this stuff was hardly state-of-the-art when the system was built back in the late 1990's, it's amazing we've been able to keep it running as long as we have.
Of course, money is tight, having just come out of Chapter 11, so it looks like I'll have to order a few more rolls of bailing wire, some duct tape, and a couple of dozen packs of chewing gum to get us through the rest of the year.
Oh...and the ship this is all installed on leaves Thursday morning for dry dock, they won't authorize any overtime for us to get the jump on this over this weekend, AND all the test equipment we need to use got sent out for calibration last week. I tried my best to convince TPTB that having *everything* due for calibration at the same time was a BAAAAD idea, but of course I was overruled because they got a price break taking ALL the equipment in at the same time. We're sending a runner over to the Cal Lab Monday morning to pick up the minimum gear we need.
I think what we'll wind up doing is to dump as much data as we can out of the equipment, do some simple RF testing, and then pull ALL the gear off the ship Wednesday afternoon.
Have a good weekend, everybody! I think I'll take my Marlin 60 (in 22LR, of course!) to the range this weekend and get some practice.

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